The 5 Preliminary Steps Before the Application of the HACCP Principles

March 18, 2020


HACCP is a management system to analyze and control all biological, chemical, and physical hazards from purchasing and handling raw material, to production and consumption of the end product to ensure food safety. To implement a HACCP plan successfully, management must show a firm commitment to HACCP to provide the restaurant staff with a sense of the importance of producing safe food.

In the development of a HACCP plan, before the application of the HACCP principles, there are five preliminary steps need to be taken.

Pre-HACCP Step 1: Assemble the HACCP Team

The first step in developing a HACCP plan is to assemble a HACCP team. A HACCP team consists of members with specific knowledge and expertise appropriate to the product and process. The team is responsible for developing the HACCP plan. The HACCP team needs to be multidisciplinary and its members should be from several areas such as engineering, production, sanitation, quality assurance, and food microbiology. Small restaurants may have a team of two or three people while larger restaurants’ teams consist of seven or eight members.

The team should also include local individuals who are more familiar with the variability and limitations of the operation. The HACCP team may obtain expert advice from outside experts from other sources, such as trade and industry associations, independent experts, regulatory authorities, HACCP literature, and HACCP guidance. Outside experts are knowledgeable in the potential biological, chemical and/or physical hazards associated with the product and the process. However, the internal HACCP team will retain ultimate responsibility for the HACCP system

The HACCP team must include a coordinator with HACCP and management skills to play the role of a team leader, where other members do not necessarily have HACCP skills. The HACCP coordinator is trained in the HACCP principles and needs to have the company resources to implement a HACCP program.

The HACCP Team is responsible for:

  • Conducting a hazard analysis.
  • Identifying potential hazards.
  • Identifying hazards that must be controlled.
  • Suggesting controls, critical limits, and procedures for monitoring and verification.
  • Suggesting appropriate corrective actions when a deviation occurs.
  • Validating the HACCP plan.
  • Clearly defining the scope of the HACCP plan including:
  1. The product/process to be assessed.
  2. Segments of the food chain to be included.
  3. The general classes of hazards to be included.

The HACCP team should meet as often as needed which could be weekly, monthly or quarterly. Always assure that the HACCP meeting has a clear purpose or aim. Not to mention that each HACCP team meeting should have ‘meeting minutes’ recorded. These minutes clarify who was present, what was discussed and any agreed resolutions.


Pre-HACCP Step 2: Describe product

In order to identify all the factors, which can affect the safety of the product under study, the HACCP team must first clearly draw up a full description of the product to assist in the identification of all possible hazards associated with the product. This description should include the name of the product, composition, physical/chemical structure, packaging, durability, storage conditions, ingredients, and processing methods.

The description also involves answering how and where the product will be used. The team should also describe whether the food is to be served frozen, refrigerated, or at ambient temperature and if there is any special serving control needed.

For the purpose of the development of the HACCP plan, the team may group products with similar characteristics or processing steps.


Pre-HACCP Step 3: Identify intended use

The third step is to describe the normal expected use of the food and define specific and vulnerable groups who may use the product based on the expected uses of the product by the end-user or consumer. This is important because the same hazard may affect different groups or populations.

The intended consumers may be the public or a particular segment of the population (e.g., infants, immunocompromised individuals, people with allergic reactions, institutional feeding, etc.).


Pre-HACCP Step 4: Construct flow diagram

The next step is that the HACCP team should construct a process flow diagram.

The flow diagram is a graphical representation to identify all steps in the operation for a specific product, from purchasing ingredients through final service. The flow diagram aimed at providing a clear, simple and comprehensive outline of the steps involved in the process. In addition, the flow diagram can include steps in the food chain that may proceed and follow the processing that occurs in the restaurant. The HACCP team may use the same flow diagram for a number of products prepared using similar processing steps.

Example of a Flow Diagram for the Production of Frozen Cooked Beef Patties:

haccp diagram


Pre-HACCP Step 5: On-site confirmation of flow diagram

After constructing the flow diagram, the HACCP team should perform an on-site review of the operation to verify the accuracy and completeness of it by walking through the restaurant to make sure that the steps listed on the diagram describe what really occurs in preparing the product. The HACCP team should make amendments where required before the formal verification.

After completing these five preliminary steps, the seven principles of HACCP are applied.



  1. Assemble the HACCP Team
  2. Describe the Product
  3. Identify Intended Use
  4. Construct Flow Diagram
  5. On-site Confirmation of Flow Diagram
  6. List All Potential Hazards\ Conduct a Hazard Analysis\ Determine Control Measures
  7. Determine CCPs
  8. Establish Critical Limit for Each CCP
  9. Establish a Monitoring System for Each CCP
  10. Establish Corrective Action for Deviations that May Occur
  11. Establish Verification Procedures
  12. Establish Documentation and Record-Keeping